It was a shared love of music that initially brought Travis Musseau and Ryan Pearce together, and over two decades later music continues to play a key role in their friendship.
“I know Ryan, from back home in Port Aux Basques. Not exactly sure on the date, but around 1995-96 I first met him personally, although I have heard about his music talent long before that,” said Musseau via email interview. “It was our love for music that brought us together, and we have remained the best of friends ever since.”
In November 2018, Pearce was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and further testing subsequently revealed it had spread to his lymph nodes and liver. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy, which meant stepping away from work and, for the father of two young boys, added more worry during an already stressful period.
“In Canada a lot of it (medical costs) is covered. Some isn’t,” says Pearce via email interview, although he doesn’t care to elaborate further. “If you’re not working it can get tough really fast.”
Musseau took it upon himself to try to help his best friend. On Dec. 7 he created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Pearce and his sons. Out of the $50,000 target goal, in a little over a month the page has generated donations in excess of $22,000.
Musseau says he is pleased with the response.
“The amount of people reaching out to support him and his family is truly heartwarming,” he said. “I find myself crying a lot seeing these generous donations and people sharing messages of hope, inspiration. He truly has made a mark on so many people’s lives.”
Although the pair originally hail from Port aux Basques, they now both live and work in Alberta, but the benefit of an online campaign is that it isn’t restricted to geography. Musseau says donations are coming in from across the country.
“It’s amazing. Even people who don’t know him are donating, just because they are friends with someone who does,” he said. “The amount of benefits being organized and private donations, gift cards, groceries — it’s unreal.”
One of the benefits being organized will take place at the Port aux Basques Lions Club on Saturday, Jan. 19 starting at 9 p.m. Currently four bands are scheduled to perform. The cost of admission is $10, and attendees will also be able to show support through further donations on site and a 50/50 raffle.
“All those proceeds will be going to Ryan,” promises Lions Club member Todd Anderson, who is a member of the club’s entertainment committee overseeing the fundraiser.
Committee members were familiar with Pearce’s musical background and as strong advocators of local musical talent and supporting families dealing with cancer, hosting a fundraiser on Ryan’s behalf seemed obvious. The committee members decided to reach out to the Pearce family with an invitation to host the benefit.
“When we reached out to his (Ryan’s) father Greg, he was more than overjoyed that we were doing this for him,” says Anderson.
For his part, Ryan Pearce is truly grateful for all of the support. He is focused on taking things one day at a time and is determined to remain positive.
“Thanks to all these generous people I don’t have to worry about food on the table or medical expenses and my kids will have what they need without causing extra stress and lets us focus on fighting this disease and staying positive. Positivity is key for me! Keep smiling! Stay positive!”